SDG Counties net $1M surplus

·4 min read

CORNWALL – Ending a financial year with more money in the bank you started is considered having a good year. For SDG Counties, it was a very good year. Auditors confirmed the upper-tier municipality posted a nearly $1 million surplus in 2021.

Ian Murphy with MNP, SDG Counties auditor, characterized the municipality as a “very well run ship” during the June 20 council meeting.

The overall operating general surplus in 2021 for SDG is $975,978. Additionally the SDG Library system posted its own surplus of $233,677, and the SDG Police Services Board a surplus of $95,120.

Counties Treasurer Rebecca Russell attributed the bulk of the surplus to using COVID-19 monies received from the provincial government to cover revenue losses in certain areas.

“We really went through almost line-by-line,” she explained saying that the COVID-19 funding had “quite a few limitations.”

Staff looked at areas where the provincial funding could be used to cover losses or in place of taxation, which created much of the reserve.

“It created a surplus overall for the Counties,” Russell said adding that the funding for 2022 will “most likely be used by the end of the year with projects that we have budgeted to use COVID funding.”

For the police and library boards, those surpluses will remain with each entity’s budget for 2022. The general surplus of nearly $1 million was transferred to reserves for council to decide what to do at a later meeting. Council will need to decide at their July 18 meeting how – or if – they want to spend any of the 2021 surplus. With municipal nominations open for the October 24 election, council may go into a “lame duck” period which limits councillors’ ability to spend unbudgeted funds during the election period.

In other council news...

SDG Counties approved another $70K in Regional Incentives Program Funding. Five businesses in this, the second of three intakes, will split the money for physical improvements through this popular program.

Three of the five businesses are based in North Glengarry, with one business in North Stormont, and one in North Dundas.

Included in the successful applications was the Winchester Curling Club, which will receive $9,580.50 for new flooring and interior paint, along with help with engineering costs relating to a staircase.

A Scottish Cottage on the edge of North Glengarry will get $10K for converting space into short-term rental accommodations.

The Atlantic Pub and Eatery in Alexandria will receive over $19K towards restoring the upper two floors of its building for short-term accommodations.

Stonehouse Vineyard in Alexandria will receive over $27K to help with constructing a 30 foot by 60 foot outdoor pavilion. And Victoria Street Studios in Finch will get nearly $4K to construct a concrete walkway and a pathway to the studio.

A third intake of businesses to the development fund is open now and closes August 4. The last intake for the year has a lot more money to spend on area businesses too. In addition to the remaining $93K left from the 2022 program funding budgeted for, another $70K was returned to the program from the 2021. Three projects from last year were cancelled – staff did not disclose what projects did not move forward.

The RIP program is funded through a $250K budget allocation approved earlier this year by council.

Updated entrance bylaw

SDG Counties approved another update to its entrances bylaw following requests by councillors at a previous meeting. The changes addressed some language in the terms of the bylaw and also added a new “commercial field entrance” to allow eight metre width entrances for agricultural land.

The Counties found itself in hot water with residents in St. Andrews West in 2021 when construction on County Road 18 prompted property owner complaints when their driveways were changed. This led to a review by staff and council, and the updated bylaw.

County Road 31 Butterflies

A project led by local advocates Christina Enright and Michelle Cavanagh and SDG staff has planted a pollinator garden on a 100 foot long stretch of County Road 31, south of the CP overpass in Winchester.

The project has created a new area for bees, butterflies and other pollinators to grow using native wildflowers. Counties staff are monitoring the eight foot wide, 100 foot long plot to understand what is needed to plant future pollinator gardens along other SDG Counties roads.

Transportation Director Ben deHaan recognized the work of employees Steven Lalonde, Barry Gray, and Mitchel Barkley, all who donated time and use of personal equipment in planting the garden.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader

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